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Man Claims St. Bernard Teacher Sexually Assaulted Him As Student

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A man claims a teacher sexually assaulted him when he was a student at St. Bernard Elementary School.

According to a lawsuit filed Monday, the alleged victim, who is now an adult, says when he was attending elementary school at St. Bernard, he began to struggle in math and sought help from a teacher.

The lawsuit claims the teacher, who is only identified as John Doe in the suit, began to tutor the alleged victim an an empty, unsupervised classroom after school.

"He sought some extra help from a teacher for math after school hours. While getting the extra help, he was repeatedly molested, raped, was required to perform certain acts on this individual," attorney Robert Peirce III said.

The teacher allegedly molested and sexually assaulted the student on at least five separate occasions during these tutoring sessions.

According to Peirce, the alleged victim has suffered both physically and emotionally from his encounters with the teacher. Peirce said he tried to forget about what happened because the memories were too painful to relive. It was years after the incidents when he finally told his parents about the alleged abuse.

"Our client is struggling. He suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. He has gotten psychological help. He continues to battle drug and alcohol addiction, and he's gotten some treatment for that," Peirce said.

The suit was filed against John Doe, St. Bernard School and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

A number of Pennsylvania Catholic Dioceses, including Pittsburgh, have set up a special fund to handle claims involving sexual abuse of minors. The fund, however, specifies it's only for claims against clergy. It states that lay teachers and employees of the Diocese are not eligible to participate in the program.

Peirce says he doesn't think that's fair.

"With this lawsuit, he is letting other victims know that, why should only those abused by a priest be the ones to go through the church program? And the rest have to file a lawsuit and again make all their allegations public," Peirce said.

Father Nick Vaskov, a Diocesan spokesman, said the Diocese typically does not comment on litigation and, in fact, they have not even seen the latest lawsuit.

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